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Fire responders deserve KPF pensions
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To the editor:

Back in July of 2021 the Great Bend Fire and Police departments expressed to the city council dissatisfaction with their current retirement situation. They are not part of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement (KPERS) system. KPERS has a special retirement program for fire and police (KPF). Because of the stress placed upon first responders, it is recommended they retire after 25 years of service. If they begin working in this field at age 25, they should retire at 50. Every county in the state is using KPF. KPF is seen as the industry standard.

And all but four Kansas cities use it. Wichita supports their own system. Iola and Independence ignore their first responders and include them in the regular KPERS system. Great Bend is using a national Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit corporation.

In reality Great Bend doesn’t have a retirement system for fire and police. They have an investment system. Under KPF, fire and police receive their retirement payments for the rest of their life. Under Great Bend’s current plan they receive monthly payments until their investment is depleted. Not a desirable option.

In the months leading up to the November 2021 election, the city proposed three sales taxes, one being .20% to improve the retirement of our first responders. This passed overwhelmingly by more than a 2 to 1 margin. 1,365 to 604. The public has spoken.

Now in the Dec. 20, 2021 meeting our city council is wobbling about doing the right thing. Instead of joining KPF, they are listening to a proposal by the same agency that abused our first responders in the past. They seem to be ignoring the current situation where Great Bend hires and trains first responders, then watches them leave to a city that provides KPF.

They are worried Great Bend can’t afford it? That makes us unique, since the other Kansas cities seem able to.

Wake up.

Anthony L (Tony) Axman

Great Bend